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3 surprising findings concerning heart disease risks


Can how many babies a woman has determine her later risk of developing heart problems? How about whether we stay married or remain single? In findings presented at last week’s American College of Cardiology meeting, researchers sought answers to such questions.

1. Marriage protects the heart, a little: Researchers from the New York University Langone Medical Center examined medical records from 3.5 million people and found that married couples were 5 percent less likely to develop clogged arteries compared to those who never wed. Widowed and divorced folks, however were 3 to 5 percent more likely than single people to get heart disease.

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2. Women should have two or three babies: Having four or more kids moderately increases a woman’s odds of having early signs of heart disease by her early 40s. But so does having no kids or one kid, according to research by University of Texas Southwestern researchers. While it would be silly to draw practical advice from this study, it does highlight the need to further study pregnancy’s effects on the heart.

3. Eat your veggies in your 20s: Women who ate eight to nine daily servings of fruits and vegetables in their 20s were 40 percent less likely to have signs of artery plaque 20 years later compared to those who had three or fewer servings a day, according to a Minneapolis Heart Institute study. The researchers didn’t find the same protective effect in men. D.K.

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